Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

What’s The Eight-Year-Old reading this week?

Our mostly-weekly survey of the tidbits that cross The Eight-Year-Old’s desk. This week, The Eight-Year-Old reads all about scheming weasels, friendly aliens, flying girls, and Schroeder’s Muse, but still finds time to spend in OlogyWorld. 

A sampling of this week’s books:

Weasels by Elys Dolan


From the Amazon write-up: “Weasels. What do you think they do all day? Plot world domination — that’s what!”

After listening to The Nine-Year-Old’s theatrical rendition of Elys Dolan’s book Weasels, Daddyo wanted to know how The Nine-Year-Old could be sure that the white weasel who appears briefly in the book to clumsily sabotage the weasels’ dastardly plot to take over the world is actually a white weasel, and not an ermine spy. This comment inspired one of our favorite genres of posts–Caterpickles reads books and has questions. In this case, “How can you tell the difference between a white weasel and an ermine?”

Alienology by Dugald A. Steer

Another entry in the Ologies series, Alienology‘s reference text format mixes fact with fiction (and a few puzzles) to entice kids into the world of science fiction. The Eight-Year-Old loves these books, but I have sort of the same problem with them that I had with the Dora the Explorer cartoons. Fact and fiction are given equal weight, and that can make it hard to tell where the lines of truth actually are.  Parents, you may want to read these books along with your kids.

No Flying in the House by Betty Brock (Illustrated by Wallace Tripp)

Annabel Tippens is not the ordinary little girl she appears to be. Ordinary, that is, if you ignore the fact that she’s being brought up by a talking dog named Gloria and is taking flying lessons from a talking cat named Belinda. When Belinda tells Annabel that she’s actually half-fairy, Annabel must choose between the normal life she craves and the wonders the fairy world offers.

In the news:

Schulz’s Beethoven: Schroeder’s Muse (

First two panels from the March 20, 1969 Peanuts. (Image via Schulz's Beethoven: Schroeder's Muse)
First two panels from the March 20, 1969 Peanuts. (Image via Schulz’s Beethoven: Schroeder’s Muse)

This week, while researching a Beethoven-related question for next Monday’s post, I stumbled on an online exhibit that examines the way Charles M. Schulz used Beethoven’s music in his comic strip Peanuts. The exhibit, which was put together by the Charles Schulz Museum and the Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies at the University of San Jose, mixes Peanuts cartoons with rare Beethoven artifacts, voice commentary by Jean Schulz (Charles Schulz’s wife), and a selection of audio clips that let you hear the musical passages alluded to in the cartoons and explain why Schulz chose them to illustrate that particular cartoon. Schulz reproduced Beethoven’s music faithfully in his strips featuring Schroeder, and for readers familiar with Beethoven’s music, the passages give his work deeper meaning.

It was inevitable, I suppose. The Eight-Year-Old has been reading the Ology series for a while now, and each book talks up the OlogyWorld site on its back cover. This week, I finally broke down and allowed The Eight-Year-Old to browse. There are shops of course, and a members only section for those of you willing to let your kids sign up (I didn’t). Public activities include Ology quizzes, readings of excerpts from the books, a full list of all Ology titles, and a crytobox. The games are members only, and as one of them prominently features a cat, I’m in for a lot of extra pleading this week.

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